Shocking Abuse at
California Livestock Auction
Animals' Angels
PO Box 1056 Westminster, MD 21158
June 11, 2015

All is not Golden in the "Golden State" 


The sun-filled state of California is known for its enlightened attitude towards many things, but sadly State Officials still have a long way to go when it comes to the question of farm animal welfare. When employees of livestock auctions are found to abuse the animals under their care, officials rarely take any action, and the owners of the auction are not punished in any meaningful way. 

In 2009, Animals' Angels sent investigators to the Escalon Livestock Auction, one of the largest auctions in California. After documenting horrific treatment & conditions, Animals' Angels met with representatives of the California Farm Bureau, the State Veterinarian, the Livestock Marketing Association, and the California Cattlemen Association and Escalon auction management to discuss the findings from our investigation and to suggest improvements. 
As a result, a treatment plan for animals that become non-ambulatory while at the auction was developed and the auction hired someone to monitor the welfare of animals at the sale.


For the next few years, things appeared to have improved. Unfortunately, as our latest investigation reveals, this positive development was only short-lived.

Despite the fact that the auction already lost large scale customers who did care about animal welfare issues, our 2014 investigations show that the auction is right back to its old ways of keeping their animals in intolerable conditions and without proper care.  


On the first day of our visit to the auction in August 2014, investigators were almost immediately confronted with a display of blatant abuse in the main barn. Weak and sickly calves were being sold, some with their umbilical cords still attached. The handlers pushed them so hard that many fell, leaving their knees severely bruised and bleeding. Pigs and goats were brutally lifted by their tails. They were hit hard and jabbed repeatedly to keep them moving. Several goats obtained injuries from the horns of other, more aggressive, goats due to the overcrowded pens.


The condition of the "spent" dairy cows was appalling. Their ribs and spines could be seen protruding through their thin skin. Several were limping and many could not stand at all. Others had open sores and were foaming at the mouth. No food or water was in sight.


Moving from the main barn, our investigators went to see how the cows were treated at the loading zone. After exiting the trailers many cows immediately crashed to the ground from exhaustion. To get them back up, the auction workers zapped them mercilessly with electric prods. 

One poor cow in particular caught the attention of our investigators. She had been dumped near a pile of manure toward the back of the premises. She was unable to move at all and therefore could not seek shelter form the hot sun that beat down on her. Shockingly, as emaciated as she was and obviously non-ambulatory, there was still a fresh auction tag dangling from her -- which means she had obviously been checked that day and found to be of acceptable health for sale.



Over the course of the next hours, there was plenty of activity around this cow but no one seemed surprised or upset about her horrific condition. Instead, another cow, in even worse condition, was dumped next to her. The cows were left to suffer, in full sun, on a near 90 degree day, with vultures circling overhead. Eventually, unable to cling to life any longer, one of the cows died amid a painful bout of bodily spasms. It was a horrendous thing to witness. 

With cows dying and no hope of assistance from the auction, our investigators couldn't wait any longer to take action. They called the local sheriff's office in an attempt to get some sort of care for the remaining cows, so they would not suffer the same fate.
No officers responded.


Upon our return for day two of this investigation, more of the same horrors were witnessed. Limping, bleeding, and injured "spent" cows were put on the auction block and those near death were dumped by the manure pile to wither away. 

Our investigators reached out to law enforcement again, this time to three different agencies. Once again, no officer showed and no one from the auction took any steps to care for these dying cows as required by law.


It became very apparent that the abuse and inhumane treatment of animals at Escalon Livestock Auction continues unabated despite past interventions and a brief period of forced changes. After securing the evidence from this last investigation, Animals' Angels filed an official complaint with the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office.

Please read our in-depth investigative report HERE


In November of 2014, Animals' Angels met with the San Joaquin County Sheriff's office as well as several representatives of the Agricultural Service Division. As a result, the Sheriff promised to launch an official investigation. For several months, undercover police agents attended the sale.

In February 2015, the Sheriff's investigation concluded and the case was submitted to the San Joaquin District Attorney for cruelty charges to be filed.


Just recently, we received word that despite all of the hard evidence, observations, video, and photographs, the District Attorney's Office had decided not to prosecute the case.


Just like that, the case had come to an end. 

Animals' Angels Will Continue to Fight

Needless to say, we are extremely disappointed with the DA's decision. According to the DA, the auction has agreed to implement yet another set of guidelines and promised again to improve the treatment of animals at the sale.  Apparently this played a major role in the DA's decision to not pursue charges. 


However, it is highly doubtful that the auction has any intention whatsoever of following regulations, voluntary or otherwise. More likely, the sole purpose of creating these guidelines was simply to dissuade the DA from filing charges. 





This setback is an incentive to work even harder to obtain justice for the cows, pigs, sheep, and goats that suffer needlessly every day at livestock auctions like Escalon.  


Justice for these animals can be obtained! 

The solution is simple.


Animals' Angels must continue to investigate the Escalon Livestock Auction on a much more frequent basis -- we must compile evidence that they are not following the voluntary procedures that they put in place to appease the DA, and then put pressure on the DA's Office to file a case.


We WILL get justice for the poor animals that suffer there every single day, but we need the funds to increase our surveillanceYour generous support will ensure that we can document this auction's neglect and the cruelty against the animals under their care. 


Please help us bring an end to the tragic suffering of these animals -- those who have no voice -- those who need our help so urgently.  We cannot do this without you.  






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Animals' Angels is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductible. 

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About us

Animals' Angels works to improve conditions for farm animals. We closely cooperate with law enforcement and government agencies to fight animal cruelty. Our investigators are out in the field nationwide, visiting auctions, feedlots and slaughter plants.



Animals' Angels, Inc.

PO Box 1056

Westminster, MD 21158


[email protected]